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Japan protests Russia’s notice of “firing drills” in Northern Territories

Russia has notified Japan of its plan to conduct “firing” in the waters near the Northern Territories, which are illegally occupied by Russia, the Sankei Shimbun learned from government and other sources on June 18. Moscow has already told Tokyo that it would conduct “bombing” in the territories from June 16 through 18. The government is gathering information as it believes Russia will conduct large-scale military drills and is on guard against Russia’s making exercises there a standard practice.


According to government sources, Russia notified Japan on June 16 of its plan to conduct firing in a wide area in the waters near the Northern Territories. It is believed that the Russian military will conduct firing exercises every day around the islands of Etorofu and Shikotan from June 21 through 26.


The government protested through diplomatic channels, saying, “The plan is unacceptable as it is incompatible with Japan’s position on the four northern islands.” Russia also told Japan that it would conduct bombing in the Etorofu Strait between Etorofu and Urup islands from June 16 through 18, prompting the government to lodge a similar protest.


In the Northern Territories, the Russian military, which has jurisdiction over the Far East, announced the launch of large-scale drills in February. It is believed that some 1,000 troops, warships, and airplanes were sent to Kunashiri and Etorofu islands where they will fly drones and conduct drills to prepare against electronic warfare and other advanced forms of combat to be able to neutralize enemy forces by jamming. The government is wary of the possibility that the exercises will be conducted regularly in the territories.  


When it revised its constitution last year, Russia included a clause banning the cession of territory with the Northern Territories in mind. President Vladimir Putin has also shown an unwillingness to negotiate the return [of the Northern Territories]. Russia is believed to be engaging in a military buildup and expanding economic activities in the territories in a bid to strengthen effective control over them.  

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